‘Tis the season for introspection.
Rosh Hashanah is upon us in a matter of weeks, which means it’s time to engage in that self-reflective evaluation known in Hebrew as “cheshbon hanefesh.” Which means a reckoning of the soul.
Each year I try, and delightfully (cough) succeed in coming up with something that I need to improve. As I scan my deeds and lifestyle, there is one thing that consistently plagues me.
Though I’m also on Twitter and Pinterest, I am frightfully attached to Facebook. For someone who doesn’t even drink coffee, being this needy is a new and unpleasant state of affairs. OK, not new; definitely unpleasant. My introspection process led me to ask “why?” What is it about Facebook that I’m so attached to?
1. The fear of boredom. When I’m just sitting around waiting for my kid to put his stupid sock on, there’s Facebook to alleviate my intense boredom. Waiting in line at Target? Got five minutes of down time at the BMV? Okay, an hour of downtime at the BMV. There’s always Facebook on my phone to entertain and enlighten me with my friends’ news, interesting articles written by mostly intelligent grownups, or pictures of happy occasions.
What’s wrong with this picture is twofold.
A, what’s so bad and untenable about sitting with my own thoughts? About observing life around me? Why this intense drive to banish boredom?
B, I could easily fill those few moments with far more lofty endeavors. I’m not even talking about reading something spiritual or saying a few chapters of Psalms (although I did always kind of want to be that person). I’m talking about sending an email to a friend, calling my grandmother, or making a list of people to reach out to. Or deciding what to make for dinner this week so I’m not doing the 5 o’clock scramble.
2. Curiosity about other people. I like people and I’m curious about their lives. I love to see what people are up to, what they find important, what they find funny.
OK, what’s so bad about that?
Well, let’s just own the fact that this is just old-fashioned gossip all dressed up in a pretty package. Pretty, because people are posting about themselves, so it’s not unkosher, but nevertheless that same shameless gossip culture is there.
3. Oversharing. This is where I examine what I post and why. I’m a very active Facebook user. I post at least once a day and usually more.
Here’s the breakdown of the types of stuff I post, in order of what I’m most proud of to what I’m least proud of:
*Torah thoughts that I think could motivate or inspire others as they do me
*Interesting articles or videos about Israel, human relationships, or the world that similarly might inspire or motivate, or generate an interesting discussion
*Honest confessions, either humorous (I think so anyway *grin*) or sardonic, about my life or parenting to help others know they’re not alone, make them laugh, and also to seek support, solidarity and love from friends.
*Requests for advice, recommendations, or information
*Pictures of me or my family
Most of these things are noble in nature. I aim to show people that in many important ways we are all the same on life’s journey. I aim to show people I am a normal mom doing normal things and that we’re not so different. I aim to bring down the culture of perfectionism and lower the obstacles between us. I aim to educate, embrace, elucidate, unify, and giggle.
The problem with all of this is that I’m always checking in to see if I’ve succeeded. And success in Facebook parlance is likes and shares. Likes and shares are ego-boosters too. Likes and shares is reliance on others for self-esteem. It’s really hard to separate all that out.
So what’s a girl to do? If my Facebook was all about selfishness and ego, it would be clear to me that it’s got to go. If my Facebook was all about Torah and kindness, it would be obvious to me that it’s got to stay. But like most things in life, it’s a tangled, messy mix of both.
A few times I’ve considered a “Facebook fast” but truly wondered about the good things that can be accomplished here. So I’m considering a FBF for the Ten Days of Repentance, starting from the first say Rosh Hashanah and concluding with Yom Kippur (I don’t use electricity anyway for three of the ten).
What do you think?
What are you reflecting on this season?